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Pour that cement!

One word from your penny pinching team: exhaustion.
Yep, today was that dreaded day.

The one with the cement, the million pavers in which to pour said cement, the unbearable heat, the ruined hairdo, all this to transform out client's Paulette and Greg's outdoor space into their dream space. Well, they were a little nervous to see so many trucks at their gate at 8 a.m on a Saturday morning.

Cement_002_3But as each paver was filled by the very capable cavalry of cement experts, not to mention to the very capable supervisory skills of my partner Ralph, Cement_006 (did I mention that the intricacies of cement is not really my cup of tea?) they were all smiles.

Greg, the lovable Greg, who has a pookie friend to do everything imaginable, finally left things in our capable hands and did the unthinkable: nothing.

Yep, no fuss, no offer to pour the cement himself to save an extra $5 bucks. He just watched and smiled as each paver popped to life and he started the see the yard go through it's transformation.

We'll add the finishing touches - sod, river rocks, plants,  outdoor furniture, umbrellas, a hammock - in a few weeks. When it's done, I'll go through a budget breakdown and reveal how we managed to turn a massive yard into a great outdoor space on a budget that was chopped into pieces many, many times. Kudos to Paulette for finding a way to meld her diva wishes with the realities of her pennies.

Cement_004 Okay, so a girl's had a rough day. I think a bottle of wine is in order. Let's chat tomorrow about transforming those bathrooms for under a $1000.

Posted by Nicole White at 08:07 PM on May 31, 2008 in Savings | Permalink | Comments (2)

Penny Pinchers We Have a Winner!

BlogceilingAh South Florida, we have some homes in need of surgery.
Missing tiles in bathrooms, broken faucets, popcorn ceilings, whipped creamed ceilings (and that is just my delicate way of describing this very interesting technique that was very popular back in the day):

But in the end there could only be one winner. And her plea came in this form:

"Help O Diva of Frugal Design," my Master bedroom is stuck in a 1980's Black and Gold Lacquer rut, while I'm screaming Boutique Hotel.


What can I do on a nominal budget to achieve this effect?


Congrats to Pearl Bethel who wants nothing more than to vanquish this black and gold lacquer furniture and live in a room that soothes her soul after a long day at work. Well, that is the test. Our budget is $1,000. It'll be tight, but that is why we are called Your Pad on a Penny. Stay tuned as we transform her space.

Posted by Nicole White at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2008 in Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

And the winner is!

Still recovering from the long weekend. Getting too old to party so hard..
But how was the shopping?
Did ya'll find some amazing deals?
lemme know
I'm sifting through the entries for the free makeover today.
Man, popcorn ceilings, whipped cream ceilings, 20-year old furnishings....A winner will be a announced Friday. 
Good luck to all.

Posted by Nicole White at 11:45 AM on May 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pump up the Patio for under a $100

We're in for another scorcher. A sticky day where plenty of water is a mandate, where your cute hairdo will likely not survive the humidity. Mostly_sunny_6

But as much as we want to stay locked inside our air conditioned cocoons, this is a Memorial Day Weekend. This is a weekend for a barbecue. For beers and mimosas with friends. But oh, those lonely and neglected patios are not as welcoming as they ought to be so here are some quick penny-pinching tips to spruce em up.

First, locate the patio! Many of you never set foot on them. People, that is precious untapped real estate!
Second, hose it down. Cost: Free.
Now, if you have some furniture out there, re-arrange in nice conversational groupings. If you don't, then now's the time to hit those garage sales and get some on the cheap or clip the coupons and head to the stores. You don't need expensive patio furniture. Use some folding chairs, side tables, buckets and beach towels to create a beach -themed space:Beach_2   

Here's how I spruced up my patio on the cheap. I used zero plants. Translation: no maintenance.Patio2
Five folding chairs from a garage sale: $20 (God bless my girlfriend Raquel who snagged em for me on one of her frequent outings)
Five chair cushions from Ikea
Cost: $5.99 each. My price? Free. A beloved client gave em to me because they couldn't fit her chairs and she loved how they looked on mine when I loaned em to her for an event. Sweet!
Outdoor rug: $9 on clearance at HomeGoods
Hanging lanterns: $5 each at Pier One or Ikea. Ikea also sells the companion light fixture so you can add extra lighting.
Side Tables: Free. I used old plant pots I had and placed sample tiles I collect for client as the table top.
Candles/holders: $10 bucks. Candles and holders(tissue holders) were on clearance at West Elm.
Reed/bamboo fencing: Inexpensive and eco-friendly product. Sold at Home Depot. I paid $12 for a cut. I used it as an extra layer of privacy and it cuts down on the heat when you're out back.
Total cost had I paid for the cushions: $96.
P.S do use that fan that's been sitting inside the garage on the patio. You'll enjoy the added breeze.
So how did you spruce up your patio for the summer? how much did you spend? send me some pics and your budget breakdown and we'll post em right for here. Here's to that tall glass of strawberry Mojito I'll be sipping on my patio all weekend! Cheers. Reed

Posted by Nicole White at 08:29 AM on May 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

The Sun, the rain and the great outdoors on a budget

Hello my penny-pinchers, I'm thinking of starting an online petition for a state law to be tentatively known as "no landscaping projects in the searing heat!" Because today was a scorcher. And it so happens that it was also the day to measure and brace the paver frames for that landscaping project I mentioned a few posts back. The one with the pookie-loving husband.

We have built a million pavers for this project and the day of the cement pour is fast approaching. Did I mention it was tres hot? as in muy caliente? I was dizzy.

First mistake: no hat. Of course I know better, but I thought the hat was in the back of the truck but it was not. So ten buckets of sweat into the morning I scurry over to Walmart to purchase a new hat for moi and my trusted right-hand man Kurt. Paulette_001

One hour into the new hat and the skies open up. I have never been so thankful for rain. I mean, I stood there and got drenched, me, a black woman who fears getting her hairdo wet.

I was too giddy  with excitement to care. The rain means some luster will return to the parched grass I've seen all over town. It also meant an abrupt halt to this arduous task. We'll finish up this weekend. If you're tackling landscaping projects this holiday weekend please follow my humble advice:
1) Bring coupons
2) Have a list of everything you need. Multiple trips to Home Depot  is not  cool with the current price of gas.
3) Buy plenty of water and or Gatorade.
4) Grab a hat.

How will you save some extra cash on your indoor or outdoor projects this weekend?

Psst...Final day to submit entries for the makeover contest is tomorrow. Good luck to all.

Posted by Nicole White at 04:05 PM on May 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2)

A flat tire and no coupons!

Remember a while back when I said something always goes wrong on installation day? Well, it always does and today was no different. This should have been a quickie. Meet the drapery guys to install a black-out shade and discuss a closet system design for my client Debbie's master bedroom redesign. One hour tops. Then I could have a gossip-filled lunch with the BFF Jazz, who was in town for a few hours. Sigh.
Everyone was scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. I make it out the door at 9:45 a.m and stop dead in the parking lot: a flat tire. I mean, really flat. Not a slow leak or a softie tire. Flat like a pancake. A happy looking nail stared back at me. Ya gotta be kidding. As I stare at the flat, panic sets in. I've yet to renew my triple A service. Double sigh. I also get two calls from potential clients at the very minute I'm assessing said tire and thinking that I have no clue how to change such things. I mean, I'm no girlie girl (I've cut tile, grouted em, hauled a 100 bags of cement to build a pond etc..etc..) but tires are outa my league. Burkett_012
One of the potential clients offers to come by and change the tire (hmm, he may get a discount for such a sweet offer) but alas, it occurs to me that Ralph's (yep, the business partner exiled to Barbados) truck is parked in a guest spot and no matter how much Diesel it'll take to fill that monster, it'll be the ride du jour. I hop in and make it to the installation just a few minutes behind schedule.
I also discovered today that I need to follow my own penny-pinching rules. I purchased some fabric samples and stencils at Jo-Anne's and Michaels Crafts (did you know they're affiliated and will accept each other's coupons?) Well, of course I had no coupons on me. Shameful. My purchases were just $12 and $6 respectively but still, wouldn't have hurt to get a little something taken off at the register. Could have used the extra pennies for that Diesel I mentioned. Word of advice: get a coupon carrier and haul it with you wherever you go.
Makeover contest entries must be in by Friday so keep sending those pictures and entry details.
Does Red Bull count on the no caffeine diet?

Posted by Nicole White at 08:43 PM on May 20, 2008 in Shopping | Permalink | Comments (1)

Let there be Fabric!

Fully recovered from the birthday blizts and ready to dish on those penny-pinching ideas. *note to self, decaf is no substitute for a cup of java. Ya either quit or ya don't. I'm on day number 13. Sigh..so where were we? Fabric is to budget friendly design what coffee is to a caffeine addict, a necessary evil. Cheap fabric is thy friend if used creatively and whipped together with amazing pieces of trim to really up the ante and give a room the look of designer fabulous but on the cheap of course. Fabric can even be the  inspiration for a design makeover. I used $1 a yard fabric as the design spring board for this children's playroom. The fabric, used for the throw pillows and curtains, also dictated the paint choice.Darlenenik_bathroom_001  To keep things really within budget, seek out the family sewing expert, dig deep down for those sewing lessons you learned in home economics or ask your local fabric store for a list of neighborhood seamstresses (they typically leave a name/number or business card). Forget paint. Fabric can also be used for a splash of color on the walls. In this case, I used $2 a yard fabric to dress the walls of this Moroccan-themed room: Boyntonfinal_018

The same fabric was used for the curtains but we added a beaded trim, just $6 a yard, to give it a more decadent look. Boyntonfinal_016 So here are my top picks for fabric stores with fabrics to fit our penny-pinching pockets:

(1) Arnold's Fabrics N Trim (home of the $1 yard fabric. Priciest fabric is $10 a yard.) 12918 NW 7th Ave., North Miami. 305-685-2666

(2) Designer Discount Fabrics and Trimmings, 1206 Stirling Road, Dania Beach, 954-923-4229. www.desigfab.com

(3) Rahaman's Fabrics, 108 NW 20th Street, Boca Raton, 33431. 561-416-7272 (be warned, the owner Jam is as wild and crazy as it gets, but she'll walk you through her cavernous space while dishing wild stories of her native Trinidad)

(4) Any local Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store: www.joann.com. Check their clearance tables and bring in a coupon: www.sundaysaver.com

(5) Walmart. Ok, so people who know me well, know I'd rather be bit by lions than venture into a Walmart, but alas, the monster chain sells fabric for a $1 a yard and upwards.

(6) Ultra Fabrics, 7979 Pines Blvd. Pembroke Pines, Fl 33024. 954-961-3797

(7) www.Denverfabrics.com this online fabric store is a great source for designer fabric on the cheap. Nervous about ordering fabric online? they'll send you hefty samples for just 10 cents plus shipping.

Send me your budget friendly fabric store and I'll add it to the list for us to all expand our fabric shopping horizons.


Posted by Nicole White at 11:31 AM on May 19, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

A bargain and a birthday!

I have not forgotten thee home decor penny-pinchers.
But a girl is celebrating a birthday today and has been a tad harried -it takes a lot to celebrate a birthday on a budget, but that is what must be done. Food, liquor and friends are in order.
Plenty of savings to dish about in tomorrow's post.
Til then...

Posted by Nicole White at 04:53 PM on May 17, 2008 in Food | Permalink | Comments (1)

Makeover Contest Rules

As promised in Sunday's introduction of this column Nikkiblog here are the rules for the makeover contest.
a) Set a budget
b) Choose one space only
c) The makeover will be cosmetic only i.e paint, window treatment, furniture, accessories.
d) No major renovation projects will qualify i.e no installation of kitchens, removal/replacement of bathtubs/vanities etc..
e) No water features
f) No design fees will be charged but labor for electrical work, carpentry (if needed) and handyman services must be paid from budget set by contest winner
g) A photo of the space must be submitted with entry
h)Entries must be submitted via email to nicole@oasisied.com by 12 p.m Friday, May 23, 2008
I) Entries from Broward and Miami-Dade only. We also reserve the right to consider travel distance in determining winner (pesky gas prices).

There you go. Count the pennies and enter away.

Some great penny-pinching tips from Sunday's HGTV Design on a Dime special: 25 Budget Decorating Secrets

Posted by Nicole White at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2008 in Savings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Crunching the numbers and craving coffee ....

Have I mentioned that it's hard for me to function without caffeine? To think about design on a tight budget without that dark-colored liquid? This blog will be a challenge for you as you try to get your space redone on a budget. It'll be a bigger challenge for moi as I try to help you achieve that with no CAFFEINE! I've had to quit. Again. Here I am, seven days and counting and losing my mind. Pray for me. Pray hard.
On the bright side, my friend at The Frugalista Files will be proud to know I've saved $25.13 (7 days worth of Starbuck's Double-tall Cappuccino)
So where were we? Debbie's pad.
Deb3daybed Sigh. Slightly overbudget. Believe me it happens.
Her total: $2691 (was a tad more but she was able to return a few items)
So what happened? How did we fail on our budget mission?
Shipping costs...
The culprit? The Ikea dining table we used as her desk. We paid $375. It would have been $199 plus tax, had it been in stock at the Sawgrass store. Sold out. Indefinitely. She was smitten, so we ordered it online.
Lessons learned: beware of shipping costs.   

Final breakdown:
Daybed: $1047
Desk: $375
Roman shade: $200
Accessories (rug, frames, magazine holders etc..): $300
Fabric @ $5.99 a yard: $148
Labor for pillows: $90
Chair (desk): $50
Vases: $62
Kinkos (black/white prints): $114
Paint: $47
Total: $2691 (* Please note there is always an additional fee for design services. This budget breakdown was of her hard costs not service fees which vary depending on project size.)

So what could you have done if say your budget was $1000 or less?
Paint the room a fabulous color. On your own or with the help of a friend to save on labor.
Use a twin size mattress/box spring (similar to the one shown here) as a daybed. Average price $399.
Dress the bed with a simple quilt/comforter with tons of throw pillows and place it against a wall to mimic a sofa/daybed
Get a budget friendly desk and chair from a retailer like Target or Walmart or get a used desk from a thrift store (more to come on that in a later post).
Use inexpensive curtains or blinds instead of a roman shade.
Accessorize with items you already have stashed around the house or pick up a few items from a budget friendly decor chain like HomeGoods.
Then enjoy the space!
You did it on a budget and saved yourself some pennies.
Now, about that coffee...I'm off to find a substitute. Catch ya'll later with the contest makeover rules.

Posted by Nicole White at 02:10 PM on May 13, 2008 in Savings | Permalink | Comments (4)

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